>Finally I watch ‘Ask the Chancellors’


I was unable to watch Channel 4’s ‘Ask the Chancellor’s’ last night, but finally got a chance this evening.  I cannot claim to have an understanding of the nuances of economics so I base my appraisal as much on debate performance as policy.

The first thing to note is the man in the middle. Not Krishan Guru Murthy, who did an admirable job of containing the audience and the politicians, but Vince Cable. Before the debate I was worried that expectations of him were so high that he would not be able to meet them. How nice it is to be proved wrong. Yes, being in the middle was a ‘gimme’ with the petulant Labservative children bickering on either side. Yes, he wasn’t pushed as hard on his policies, but that is because they were clearly laid out and reasonable, requiring little follow up. He was the wise head picking off the pretenders on either side of him piece by piece. He was even funny! Alistar Darling’s only laugh came from his quip about cross party agreement and just seemed smug, while Cable’s comedy came from the fact he interesting and the audience were receptive to what he was saying. Ok, its economics debate so everything is relative, but after watching the Budget Cable was practically Pythonesque.

Of course this wasn’t actually the Vince Cable show, or at least need not have been, but his opponents were just not in the same league. Alistair Darling seemed to forget he was actually the Chancellor for most of the debate. Instead he tried to act as if he is a White (haired) Knight riding in to solve all our economic problems. After being a key member of the Government for 13 years, and then Chancellor for 2 as the economy collapsed around us, that simply will not wash with the British public. It is not good enough to blame global circumstances and then big yourself up because the country just about managed to avoid total ruin. It is not good enough to smugly tax people to oblivion and then waste their money. It is not good enough to cross your fingers and hope  it will all be alright.

Osborne was a bit better, although that is almost by default. As ever he was patronising in the extreme, informing the audience that ‘two people you won’t have heard of’  supported him, and his kind reminder that IMF stood for International Monetary Fund. He also is unable to shake the impression that he is beholden to big business above all else. I was slightly reassured by him mostly because he seemed determined to agree with Vince Cable as often as possible. Osbourne though was guilty of starting the pathetic bickering that so turns people off politics. He couldn’t resist pulling faces and sniping an Darling on multiple occasions. Furthermore, while he claimed to improve the lot of 7 out 10 Britons, he never adequately advocates policies to help those right at the bottom.
So was there a knock out punch from Vince? Well no. His closing statement was the only one to be interrupted by applause, and he come up with the only memorable lines such as ‘pin striped Scargills’  in reference to wealthy tax dogers. The truth is that the knock out punch was not required. He did turn to either side and take well founded swings first at Osbourne then at Darling, but ultimately let his own qualities and policies do the talking.
It was more enough to score a clear points victory.

Encouraging then for the Liberal Democrats, but worrying for the country if the Labservative dominance continues.

My final scores:
Darling: 3 – boring and must foot the blame
Osbourne: 5 – petulant, patronising, and out of his depth
Cable: 8 – reasoned, reliable and right


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